Inspiration All Around

The special people who run small businesses inspire me endlessly.  Little “mom and pop” convenience stores, gas stations, book stores, repair shops, shoe stores, pharmacies, and plenty of others, where the owners are not getting rich but are providing service with a smile make me believe in this country.

In the community where I live there is a chain convenience store that sells gas and is open 24 hours, 7 days a week.  There is also a full service gas station that is closed after 6 pm and on Sundays.  The service station is run by a man named Duane Thomas and his nephew Jason Randolph.

When you pull up to the pump, one of them comes out, asks what you need, pumps your gas, cleans the windshield, chats about the weather and tells you to have a good day or evening.  At the chain store, you can have access to more candy and cokes, but nobody is quite as cheerful or glad to see you as at Thomas’ Service Station.

One morning I stopped at Thomas’ to get gas on my way to work.  I asked for $10 worth of gas and after he pumped it, Mr. Thomas waited patiently for me to dig through my wallet.  I only had a $5 bill!

I apologized, handed him the five and asked if he needed me to run home and get the rest or if it would be okay for me to come back after work.  He said, “Oh, after work is fine.  Don’t worry, it’s all right.”

Then, he stopped and said, “Do you have money for lunch?” He handed me back my five and said, “Don’t give me your lunch money, just bring it to me this evening.”

I am a Thomas’ Service Station customer for life.

In support of local brick and mortar businesses everywhere,  Cinda Baxter runs the 3/50 Project.  The 3/50 Project suggests that people who support independently owned businesses choose three each month at which to spend a total of $50.  Most of us will spend $50 a month on various purchases anyway, so why not support independent business owners at the same time?

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Local Food

Food plays a big part in my thoughts about a better world.  This year, I joined a CSA program.  Most people have probably heard of CSAs or Community Supported Agriculture programs.  They have different requirements, but when you join, you pay for a share of a farm at the beginning of the season, then receive a share of the produce throughout the growing season.

I joined at the “half share” level, and for the farm I joined the price is around $400 for the year.  In return, I get a grocery bag of vegetables each week from May until October, either 24 or 26 weeks.  The farmer and I struck a barter deal, so I am not exactly a regular customer.  Also, the farmer is my neighbor, so I can drive past his beautiful fields anytime.  This CSA is a big one–I think around 100 families are members.  Some CSAs only allow for 15 or 20 members.  It is also a certified organic farm, which is nice to know.

The most outstanding factor is the TASTE.  I have never had such wonderful vegetables, including the ones I’ve grown myself.  Maybe my farmer is using exceptional seed or something, I don’t know, but the result is unbelievable.  The greens were crispy and green and now that it is the height of harvest season, the tomatoes, celery and carrots have the most tomato-y, carrot-y and celery-y flavors imaginable.  I am eating  much more raw food than normal, just so I can get the full taste of the veggies with no distractions.

Since this blog is about people and businesses that inspire me to imagine a better world, I have to include CSAs because in a perfect world, all food would be this good.  If there is a CSA farm near you, check into it.  The programs vary, the prices vary, the number of weeks produce is delivered varies, the payment options vary.  With all those variables, there might be a chance you could work fresh, local food into your life.

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